The Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) and Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital (DGMAH) were recently accredited by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) with a subspecialty training unit of Paediatric Oncology. The Paediatric oncologists diagnose, treat, and manage children and teens with cancers, blood cells and bleeding disorders. “We are a 30 bedded unit and we get approximately 50 new admissions per year. We treat all types of childhood cancers (blood and solid cancers for patients up to the age of 18 years), and all the benign haematology disorders,” said Dr Elelwani Madzhia, head of Paediatric Haemotology and Oncology Unit at SMU/DGMAH.
The unit is located at DGMAH (ward 20) and caters for patients residing in City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality’s northern areas (Ga-Rankuwa, Soshanguve, Mabopane, and Hammanskraal), and North-West province. “We offer medical, surgical and psychosocial therapy to our patients with the help of a multidisciplinary team that comprises of various health practitioners. We also get the support from the cancer support non-governmental organisations like Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa (CHOC), Reach for a Dream Foundation, Rainbows & Smiles Rainbow (Supporting kidz with cancer), and the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA),” said Dr Madzhia.
Under the leadership of Dr. Madzhia, the unit hopes to improve the overall outcome of the patients. The unit wish to offer a radiotherapy service and also conduct a lot of research in the near future. The challenges encountered at the unit are more psycho-social and requires preventive measures for patients wellbeing. “There is a lack of awareness in the communities, which results in us receiving patients coming with advanced stages of cancer. With cancer, early presentation is essential in order to achieve an overall high survival rate and a good quality of life,” highlight Madzhia.
“Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have not had any positive patients in our unit,” conclude Madzhia, who is an SMU Alumna.
By Tumelo Moiloa